The Apostle Peter’s Big Mistake???

And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James.

These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.” (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For it is written in the book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it’; and, ‘Let another take his office.’

“Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
Acts 1:13-26

Some interpret the above scripture by finally saying that the selection of Matthias was a mistake on the part of Peter. The evidence for this statement is, “Matthias is never mentioned again anywhere in the Bible.” While that statement is true, it is not evidence that Peter made an error by calling for the appointment of another disciple to take the place of Judas. The argument usually given is that God had already chosen Saul, who later became known as the apostle Paul, to be the replacement for Judas. Let us first look at the statement that you never find the name of Matthias after the first chapter of Acts, and see what we can learn from the list of apostles mentioned in the 13th verse shown below.

“Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James.”

Let’s see how many of them appear later in scripture.

  1. Peter – Appears frequently in the early chapters of Acts. He preached the sermon that resulted in 3000 men plus women and children being added to the church on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). God also used him to be the one who opened the way of salvation to the Gentiles (Acts 10). Peter was also at the conference held in the city of Jerusalem to settle the issue of circumcision (Acts 15). He appears often in the beginning years of the church. Later, however, the book of Acts takes a turn and ends up speaking mostly about the ministry of Paul. Significantly, Peter wrote two epistles that bear his name. Obviously, Peter was a person of some importance and is mentioned quite often, even in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, and his letter to the Galatians.
  2. James – The son of Zebedee and brother of the apostle John. James was martyred by Herod in Jerusalem in Acts 12:1-2, otherwise, James is never mentioned after Acts 1:13.
  3. John – The son of Zebedee and brother of the apostle James. John is mentioned in the early chapters of the book of Acts, but later, you read very little about him. John wrote a book containing a record of the acts of Jesus called The Gospel According to John. He also wrote three letters, and he finally ended up on the Isle of Patmos where he wrote the book of Revelation which is the last book in the New Testament.
  4. Andrew – The brother of Peter is never mentioned after Acts 1:13.
  5. Philip – Is never mentioned after Acts 1:13
  6. Thomas – Is never mentioned after Acts 1:13.
  7. Bartholomew – Is never mentioned after Acts 1:13.
  8. Matthew – Wrote The Gospel According to Matthew, but is never mentioned after Acts 1:13.
  9. James the son of Alphaeus – Is never mentioned after Acts 1:13.
  10. Simon the zealot – Is never mentioned after Acts 1:13.
  11. Judas the son of James – Is never mentioned after Acts 1:13.

Of the eleven men mentioned as being apostles in the upper room, eight are never mentioned after Acts 1:13, Peter, James and John, who are mentioned were the three who were closest to Jesus during His earthly ministry. That Matthias was never mentioned after being appointed as an apostle puts him in some pretty good company, so to say the fact that you never read of Matthias after the first chapter of Acts proves that Peter made a mistake is just not borne out by scripture.

Who Was James?
The question naturally arises then, who was the apostle James you read about after James the brother of John was martyred in Acts 12, and who wrote the book of James. The apostle Paul can help us out with this.

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.
Galatians 1:15-19

In the first chapter of Galatians, when speaking of his conversion and training, Paul states that he “did not immediately confer with flesh an blood” showing that he did not want to be taught by men, so he “did not go up to . . . those who were apostles” before him. Instead, he went into the desert for a time. Then after three years he went to Jerusalem to see Peter for fifteen days. At that time, he did not see any of the other apostles except James, the brother of Jesus. Whenever you see James spoken of in the Bible after John’s brother, James, was martyred in Acts 12, it is the Lord’s brother who is referred to. Remember that during the earthly ministry of Jesus, His brother James was not a believer and he was not one of the original apostles.

For even His brothers did not believe in Him.
John 7:5

What About Philip?
Another question naturally arises regarding Philip the apostle. Someone named Philip is mentioned several times after Acts 1:13. Was this Philip the apostle?

We first read of this Philip in Acts 6:5 when he was appointed to be one of the seven deacons placed over the provision for the widows in the daily food distributions. When the need was brought to the attention of the apostles their reply was, “It is not desirable that we should leave the Word of God and serve tables.” (Verse 2) This same Philip went to Samaria and preached the gospel as described in Acts 8:4-13. In verses 26-40 of the same chapter Philip was sent by the Holy Spirit to the road from Jerusalem to Gaza where he met the Ethiopian eunuch, whom he led to the Lord and baptized.

Finally in Acts 21:8 Luke calls this man “Philip the evangelist” saying, “On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.” This Philip was definitely not the apostle mentioned in Acts 1:13.

Two Different Commissions
Regarding the idea that God selected Paul to replace Judas, we need to understand that there were two different jobs given to the original apostles as compared to the job given to Paul. When Jesus sent His original selection of twelve on their first preaching and ministry journey he gave them a set of parameters for their task.

These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Matthew 10:5-6 Emphasis added.

They were not to preach to Gentiles, but they were to seek out the “lost sheep of the House of Israel.” Paul’s commission was entirely different. Note what God told Ananias when he protested against visiting Paul after his conversion experience on the road to Damascus.

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.
Acts 9:15 Emphasis added.

The twelve were not sent to preach to Gentiles, but Paul’s specific and primary calling was to reach Gentiles first of all, kings secondly, and finally “the children of Israel”.

What did Peter say were the qualifications for one who would complete the group of twelve apostles?

“For it is written in the book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it’; and, ‘Let another take his office.’ “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
Acts 1:20-22 Emphasis added.

Peter listed the qualifications to be included with the remaining eleven apostles, namely that it must be someone who was with the original eleven from the preaching and baptism of John, and who had been personally with Jesus during His earthly ministry. Why was that important? These twelve were then to be eye witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus. Paul could not speak of seeing the resurrected Jesus while He was still walking among the disciples. Paul himself makes an important statement in his chapter on the resurrection.

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.
I Corinthians 15:3-5 Emphasis added.

Paul clearly states that Jesus was seen after his resurrection “by the twelve.” This could not have included Judas since Judas did not witness the resurrection, since he hanged himself when he knew that Jesus had been condemned.

Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.
Matthew 27:3-5

The fact that Paul says Jesus was seen by “the twelve” means that he acknowledged Matthias as included in the number. Paul himself never thought he was a replacement for Judas.

The next question we need to address is, when Paul went to visit Peter around three years following his conversion, why didn’t he see any of the twelve at Jerusalem except Peter and James. The obvious answer is that they were not there! But where were they? The obvious answer is that they were seeking to complete the job Jesus gave to them.

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 1:8 Emphasis added.

These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Matthew 10:5-6 Emphasis added.

The majority of the apostles were going “to the end of the earth” in order to preach the gospel to the “lost sheep of the House of Israel,” so naturally, they were not in Jerusalem when Paul arrived to visit Peter. The northern ten tribe House of Israel had been carried captive over seven hundred years earlier and were now settling into their new homes in northern Europe and the British Isles. While Paul spent most of his time preaching to Gentiles, “the twelve” were seeking for and having great success ministering to the non-Jewish, non-gentile House of Israel.

So, did Peter make a mistake in calling for the appointment of Matthias? The scriptural evidence says “No.”

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